Quick! Name the most expensive neighborhoods to rent in Brooklyn! DUMBO, right? Brooklyn Heights! Williamsburg! Cobble Hill! Carroll Gardens! Fort Greene! Uh, the list goes on and on, right? Because lately it sure seems like there aren’t really all that many neighborhoods in Brooklyn that can’t be classified as expensive. After all, when newspapers like the New York Times relay the news that property prices in neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights have more than doubled in the last decade without following that news with a bunch of—parenthetical, obviously—expletives demonstrates nothing more or less than the reality that we’re living in pretty intense times.
And now, a report released by real estate company MNS reveals that even neighborhoods that have long been affordable (or affordable enough, anyway) are not well on their way to being options only for those pulling in six-figure incomes. As of May 2014, the neighborhoods with the biggest increase in rents were Crown Heights (studios and -bedrooms) and Prospect Lefferts Gardens (2-bedrooms). Both of these neighborhoods saw month-to-month rent spikes of well over 10%, with Crown Heights seeing a 17.7% increase in the cost of studios, contributing to the ridiculous reality that the average rent of a studio in Brooklyn is now more than $2,100/month. If you want a little perspective on what that means, if you want to keep your rent costs down to 30% of your gross annual income, you’d better be making $86,000/year in order to afford a studio apartment in Brooklyn.
But perhaps most alarming is the fact that MNS omitted what are called “ultra-luxury” apartments from its research. “Ultra-luxury” means anything over $10,000/month, which, yes, we agree that this is “ultra-luxury,” but also this pretty much destroys any chance you had of reassuring yourself that surely those numbers were inflated by super high-end apartments. No, these numbers are real and they’re offensive. Or at least, they should be to anyone who earns what should be thought of as a middle class income. After all, this is just further proof that it has become almost impossible to make choices about where to live based on anything other than cost. Do you care about what school zone you live in? What subway line you’re near? Which bars and restaurants are nearby? Whether or not you have park access or decent supermarkets within walking distance? Well, sorry. Those kinds of amenities are luxuries reserved for people who make enough money to have options in terms of which neighborhood they want to live in. And maybe you’re one of those people! In which case, congratulations. For the rest of us? If you’re happy where you are, stay put for as long as you can. Unless that is, you get kicked out by overzealous landlords. In which case, good luck out there.
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